Monday, May 17, 2010

I blame Bill Cosby

I can still picture it. I was about 9 years old, standing in the dollar store watching as my dad rummaged through the clearance bin (no deal was to be left unfound, even at a store where the spendiest item was a dollar), when he fished out two Bill Cosby cassettes. The cases were cracked and they had that weird cheap plastic smell to them, but as soon I slid them into my boom box and smushed down the play button, I immediately fell in love with stand up comedy.

Being the daughter of a librarian, I was well aware of books on tape at this point. I think I had worn out the library's copy of Emily's Runaway Imagination (by Beverly Cleary), and I vividly remember listening to The Secret Garden (by Frances Hodgson Burnett) while working on my miniature seed bead loom for hours on end (it was 12 two-sided cassettes). But I had never encountered anything quite like the humorous tales Bill told of his youth. Who knew someone's life could be so interesting. I was disappointed that my white bread youth in the suburbs would never compare to the crazy antics of Bill and his brother growing up in the projects of NYC.

Not long after buying the tapes I started putting them on to fall asleep to. By the time I was 11 I had saved enough cash to buy a boom box that had auto-reverse (and a CD player, but I only had 1 CD at the time, another glorious discount find of Patti Labelle), so I would literally listen to the tapes all night on repeat. There came a point when my brother and I would quote these stories to anyone who would listen, most of whom had no idea what the hell we were talking about (and I'm sure wondered why we were talking about the paper thin walls of the bedroom we shared in our apartment, when in reality we lived in a three bedroom house).

To this day I can't fall asleep to silence. I love putting in a movie I've seen a hundred times, or playing an old comedy routine off my iPod (I still have the tapes, but have upgraded along the way). I still re-tell jokes joyously as people wonder what insane asylum I've escaped from and if it's safe to make any sudden movements. Not to mention, and I wish some friends didn't know this about me, I will do anything that makes for a good story later on. And for that, Bill, I blame you.

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PS: BILL COSBY IS COMING TO MN! That's right, he's coming in August- do I smell a road trip?

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